The debate around the relevancy of historically black colleges (HBCUs) is at least as old as the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education that "separate but equal" educational systems are inherently unequal. The data and experiences of countless HBCU alumni like me tell a much different story: HBCUs play an invaluable role in educating often underprepared students successfully, and without HBCUs, the hopes and dreams of thousands of capable African-Americans would go unrealized.
While HBCUs enroll only 15 percent of African-American collegians, they award 30 percent of all degrees obtained by African-Americans. Hence the relevancy of HBCUs is unassailable. But we can ill afford to leave the debate there. Today, like never before, colleges and universities must compete for students, faculty, money and public recognition. HBCUs are in a position to reaffirm their significance by graduating a preponderance of their students, distinguishing themselves academically and ensuring that they are expertly managed.